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What do VPNs cost?

vpn connectivity chart what do vpns cost

How much should you be paying for your online security?

A VPN, or virtual private network, can be important to keep you secure online, but how much should you be paying for one? Asking what VPNs cost is a little like asking “How long is a piece of string?”, but we can help you navigate the modern VPN market so you can figure out whether you’re overpaying or, perhaps, not paying enough.

A word on “free” VPNs

You’ll often see offers for “free” VPNs online, but the reality is there’s no such thing as a VPN that doesn’t incur a cost. It’s simply that you’re not paying for the service directly. Free VPNs can make money by selling advertising or even harvesting data from their users, which is the very opposite of what you want from a VPN service.

Aside from the privacy and online safety concerns of free VPNs, you’re also unlikely to experience decent performance or even security from a “free” product. In general, we believe it’s best to avoid free VPNs – although note that we’re not including free VPN trials or VPNs provided as part of a bundle such as the VPN included in Google One under this banner.

Getting a feel for VPN pricing

Subscription-based VPN services (as opposed to rolling your own VPN, which is a separate topic) can vary quite a bit in price. While there are outliers, the cost of most decent VPNs will work out to around £10 a month.

Highly specialised VPNs that focus on extreme security or foolproof location spoofing might charge considerably more, even in excess of £20 a month.

However, opt to pay for an annual, quarterly or semi-annual plan and you’ll see the costs reduce dramatically, often by more than 50%.

VPN providers offer such deals to lock you into the service and to get more money up front. However, reputable VPN providers will also usually offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if the VPN doesn’t work as you’d like it to, you can get a refund and try a different service. In our opinion, if a VPN service doesn’t offer a trial period with a money-back guarantee, it’s probably a sign to avoid it in the first place.

You’ll find that most VPNs offer similar pricing and features, but they don’t always deliver on those promises to the same degree. This is why it’s important to read independent reviews by testers who know how to evaluate this technology. You’re already in the right place to access expert advice; we’ve reviewed and tested most well-known VPNs, and even some of the lesser-known services that might entice you. To discover the best VPNs, take a look at our best VPN roundup.

Below we reveal the pricing for five of the most popular VPN services to offer a guide on what you should be paying. These prices are correct at the time of writing.

VPN service1 month6 months12 monthsOur review
NordVPN£10.39 + VATN/A£53.85 + VAT5/5
PIA (Private Internet Access)£10.89£32.34N/A4/5
Surfshark£12.29 + VATN/A£32.06 + VAT5/5

Factors that influence VPN pricing

You can pay anywhere between £5 and £15 a month for a VPN, but this is likely to be just the base cost for the service. Many VPNs offer specialised packages or have bolt-on features that make them more expensive than their peers. If you see a VPN that seems to cost more (or much less), it might be due to one of the following:

Number of servers

Some VPN services advertise that they have hundreds of servers around the world, while others may have a relatively small number. Large server numbers across multiple locations are expensive, and that cost is passed on to customers.

Of course, if a VPN exit node in your own country is a necessity, or you need to spoof your location in the countries on offer, then the premium will be worth paying. However, if a VPN provider with fewer server locations still covers the locations you need then – all else being equal – you can probably go for the cheaper option.

Specialised servers

Not all VPN servers are the same. Some are optimised for gaming, others are designed to get around streaming service VPN blocks. If you have specific needs then it may be worth paying more for a VPN service that can deliver on your requirements.


Number of connections

Usually when you subscribe to a VPN service you can connect only with a limited number of devices. Typically, the number of connections is five, which could cover two smartphones, two laptops and a TV box of some kind. Those whose requirements are greater will need either an add-on package or multiple subscriptions.

woman showing man something on phone with laptop in background how much do vpns cost

If you have the right kind of router, you can set up a VPN on your router, which uses only one connection and covers all the devices connected through the router. This will free up your other connections for mobile devices that have to leave your Wi-Fi coverage.

Infrastructure ownership and security

The majority of VPNs that advertise having huge numbers of servers in multiple countries don’t actually own those servers; they rent them from large data centres. As such, they don’t have full control of them. Some more privacy-focused VPN providers have smaller server counts, but they own and control the servers wholly. The latter often translates to a more expensive service, but one that offers greater peace of mind.

READ NEXT: Best VPNs for Amazon Fire Stick

How to save even more money on VPNs

We’ll let you in on a secret: it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to pay the listed price for a VPN. First of all, there are certain times of year – around Black Friday, for example – when VPN providers compete by offering significant discounts on their services. If you buy your annual plans at this time, you’ll save a decent sum of money. Some VPN services may also allow you to pay out for multiple years of the service, further reducing the price.

If you prefer not to wait for Black Friday or some other major sale period, you can usually find coupons or discount codes without much effort. VPN providers are common sponsors of YouTubers and other content creators, from whom you’ll find decent discounts.

Some VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, give existing subscribers personal promo codes, where both the existing customer and the person they’re introducing can get free VPN time. So, if you know someone who already uses such a service, ask them for their code.

If you’re ready to save some money, have a look at your roundup of the best cheap VPNs.

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